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4 to 5 yrs post-op

armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 88
My surgery consisted of only a few terms I can remember: Laminectomy, Diskectomy, spinal fusion (arthrodesis), bone growth stimulator, back hardware and all of this was for 2 ruptured discs at L-4, L-5 and S-1.

I could only allow 2 weeks of recovery post-op because I had only 2 weeks of vacation at my job. If I went any longer, bills wouldnt have gotten paid. I was able to ease into it fairly well. I went to work for 4 or 5 hours the first day and a little longer each day after. But since I have a desk job, I figured, I was going to be doing the same thing at home as at work (messing around on the pc), so I might as well get paid for it.

After 18 months, I had to get my hardware removed due to pain that never went away, I was back to work 3 days after I got out of the hospital after that last one. I noticed immediately that with my hardware out, I had a much greater range of movement. With my hardware, it was fairly tough to put on socks and wash my feet in the shower, or even trim my toenails. Not to mention the paperwork associated with going to the restroom was difficult. But now I am fine.

After almost 4 yrs post op, pain continues tho. I have mentioned on here already that I am one of the lucky ones that continue to have debilitating pain. MRI scans show Epidural Fibrosis according to one opinion.

Now that I think of it, my pre-op pain still exists and is only getting worse...eventhough I did see the need for my operation because of the x-rays showing the problems with my discs but I am just now getting to the point that I think that maybe they operated on another symptom but my original pain generator is still present. I think I need to go to my 4th dr now for another opinion.


  • dilaurodilauro ConnecticutPosts: 9,848
    but at this point in your situation would it really make a difference? Not health wise, but perhaps for a piece of mind.
    Ron DiLauro Spine-Health System Administrator
    I am not a medical professional. I comment on personal experiences
    You can email me at: rdilauro@veritashealth.com
  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 88
    I remember my symptoms and what I told my doctors before they found my 2 ruptured discs. And all I have to say is, they never fixed what is causing my original pain and it still seems to be getting worse. All my treatments were to alleviate or fix what we all thought was the generators of my pain, but thru all my surgeries and treatments, nothing changed the fact that the original pain is still here. So I think that there is something else going on. I still get MASSIVE pain when I do anything slightly strenuous. Its the same pain as before. I am not asking for help as I was before, I am just stating information that I think is relevant to my issue...and airing my thoughts.
  • I'm so sorry. I know living with chronic pain can be a nightmare. Do you think if they'd done more diagnostic tests before operating your situation would be different now? If you're sure that the original pain hasn't been tackled yet it could be a good idea to see a new specialist. I'm a big fan of second opinions. I think a new set of eyes can see things a bit differently.
    I was recently surprised by how much pain my SI joint generates. I've got so much spine damage created by osteoarthritis. Specialists seem to jump at herniated, squished, flat discs as obvious pain generators but in my experience facet joints & SI joint can be just as debilitating.
    Thank you for sharing your information & experiences. Even when we've exhausted most of our options, particularly in some cases, we can really help others walk a slightly different path. My friend has had many surgeries, including 3 fusions. She has more diagnostic tests than anyone I know each time. Every surgery reduces or eliminates the particular pain that's crippling her most at the time! I'm becoming a big fan of seemingly excessive testing.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 88
    I originally hurt my back in Sept 2008. I have always had some back problems throughout my life but phys therapy always seemed to take care of it... but this time I knew something wasnt right. The pain was different and it didnt go away. I was medicated for 3 yrs before I decided to go to a different dr and they suggested a different specialist.

    After 1 set of tests, they found I had my 2 ruptured discs... I could see on the x-ray what he was talking about, he showed it to me. He suggested immediate surgery and I figured its been 3 years of constant pain,... YES I WANT RELIEF. I asked many questions, and I got answers. But even then, after my surgery, I wished for the old pain back haha. But I kept telling myself that once this post op pain went away, I will be all better. I was better for a short time... but about 3 months later I noticed an ache in my bones. And it was similar to the old pain but different. I was still needing pain meds 1 year after my surgery so I figured that maybe that the new hardware might be causing me pain. I have had this pain that was constant since my surgery and I lost my will to do much of the stuff I used to do because I knew I would hurt badly and I did hurt when I tried. So I didnt eat more but I did start drinking more and being less active. The alcohol made me not care so much that I was hurting. My mind would be distracted without having to physically do anything. But I got overweight by about 40 lbs.

    I even went to my doctor and asked him if my pain was in my head. I wasnt sure if being on pain meds so long tricked my mind into telling me my body was hurting. I tried cutting back on my pain meds gradually and the pain became too much after a couple weeks. I told my doctor and he said that my pain was real. I guess he could verify it with what I did and how I reacted.

    So I had tests done to see if the hardware in my back was causing the pain 18 mos after my first surgery. I had nerve blockers, radio freq ablation, cortizone shots and other stuff, and I felt some relief but I could tell there was still something wrong inside me. All the tests showed that I would have some relief after my back hardware was taken out... and I did feel some-what better but I would say maybe 2 months after getting my hardware removed, my old pain came back. It was like I didnt have anything done at all.

    In fall of 2013, I noticed increasing pain and my doctors changed my pain meds to stronger stuff. From March to August 2014, I had several instances where my pain would get worse but the level wouldnt go down. I would seem to have a bad day that wouldnt end. It seemed every bad day of intense pain just increased the pain more with no let up from the previous increase in pain. I am now taking Methadone for pain and it worked remarkably well after being on it for 2 weeks.But I am on my 3 month of being on it and I am noticing that the pain levels are creeping back up. I still have good days but it is the same pain, still hitting me hard but the methadone seems to make it go back down.

    I dont know if you ever had a migraine but when I have migraines and I take meds to make them go away, I can feel inside my head where the migraine was...its like my vessels in my head swelled and I can feel in my head the empty space...its like a tingle in my head. I know I was hurting because it was there. Well I get the same kind of feeling in my back. I can tell my back is in great pain because it feels weird and I can tell I am supposed to be feeling pain but I know the pain meds are masking the pain. But I can feel something isnt right in me and I can tell if it werent for my meds I would be hurting ALOT. Its almost like when you get a tooth pulled and the codeine meds are masking the pain, but you know there is a place in your mouth that should be hurting because it feels different. Thats almost like what I am talking about.

    Yes I know I get long winded and it is so hard to tell my DR this when he only gives me a couple minutes to explain everything.
  • Great description! I know what you mean. I suffer with migraines. My pain meds don't work that well. I've heard great things about methadone. Apparently it's the best narcotic for handling structural AND nerve pain. It's on my doctors to-do list.

    When were your last diagnostic tests? When was the last time you had a new surgeon specialist give you a second opinion? If its been a while I'd try that. For me it can get exhausting seeing different specialists but chronic spine pain can take over your life. I feel so much better when I'm confident that I'm doing everything I can to treat my conditions & you seem like you have so many doubts. Even if you just get some peace of mind I think it's well worth getting a consultation with a different board certified spine surgeon. It seems like you have a good pain management doc but I've been 'stuck' in pain managent in the past & neglected other options.
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
  • armelindarmelind South TexasPosts: 88
    One thing I just noticed/realized/come to the conclusion of: Was that my hygiene has suffered in the last year. Ever since I was 15 or 16, I took a shower every morning, sometimes at night also if I got dirty enough. That has been my norm until my surgeries. While recovering from those, I relaxed my showering to ever other day or every 3rd day due to the pain of trying reach my feet and also in case I dropped something, I didnt want to take a chance of slipping and falling while trying to stand back up or something. But after the surgery pain ceased, I went back to my regular once a day showers.

    Since my pain level has crept up over the last year, I catch my self having to talk myself into taking a shower. Trying to convince my brain that I have gone long enough and it is time. My hair gets greasy and I catch myself using deodorant more often... when I was showering daily, I hardly ever sweated so I didnt really have to use deodorant unless it was a really hot or humid day. So last night, I was telling myself that I had to take a shower and if I didnt do it then, I will have to wake up and take one. This morning came and my sleep was so restless that I hit the snooze button past the time where I could take a shower... so here I am, telling myself "tonight... absolutely I have to take a shower"...but then I remember, a coworker needs me to help them with a project after work... and I will be tired and sore when I get home...so it will be even more difficult for me to persuade myself to get in there. But I will say, "in the morning, I hurt too much right now. And the shower will wake me when I need to start winding down to be able to sleep." So tomorrow I am sure I will be to tired and too sore to get in the shower before work. I am a slave to my pain even though I am on a stronger med that helps out a lot but the weather lately has been VERY hard on me. Its colder outside and the drafts when I get out of the shower will make me cold and uncomfortable. Its a vicious cycle I cant even talk my way out of. Too many excuses to stay out of pain or out of discomfort. I am so tired. I am so sore and I need a shower. I dont stink but I feel yucky to me.

    Not to mention, the depression this pain puts me in. I dont want to go anywhere, I dont want to spend time with anyone. I dont care for doing the stuff I used to love doing. I am not me. I am not the person my wife married and she is suffering with me about this.

    Does this sound familiar to anyone?
  • Ahhh. Confessions of a spiney!
    Some days I don't have the energy to do anything. Have you read "Spoon Theory" (top of chronic pain forum)? Yes! Some days I just don't have enough spoons for a shower. I used to do my hair, wear make-up etc everyday. Now I'm lucky if I get my hair brushed some days!
    I make myself feel better by thinking of the old working class days of a whole family taking it in turns with one bath, once a week. My Dads family have some funny childhood stories...very large family. Mostly boys. One sister. Poor thing!
    There are more important things in life. Don't feel bad about using your spoons on other things ;-)
    Osteoarthritis & DDD.
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